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Appeared on EQ tv-showElliott Sullivan ( July 4. 1907 - June 2. 1974)



Marriages:
(1) Glenda Arlene Shields (Sep 1, 1939 - divorced)  (?)
(2) Norma Dolin (Apr 14. 1947, N.Y. - Jun 2. 1974, his death)
      Children: Marc & Abby

Siblings:
        Annie (ca 1883, Russia - ca 1889, Russia)
        Gertrude (Jun 15. 1884, Russia - ),
        Abraham (Jan 1893, Russia - ),
        Elke/Ellie/Ella (Apr 1898, Texas - Feb 25. 1903)
        Selig/Sallinger (Mar 5. 1900, Coriscana, Tx - Oct 18. 1987 L.A., Ca)
        Rosa/Rose (Sep 3. 1903, San Antonio, Tx - Sep 29. 1988 San Antonio, Tx).

Born in San Antonio, Texas on July 4. 1907 as Eli (Aleck) Solomon. His parents, married in Russia around 1884, were Rabbi Solomon Zalmanovich Solomon from Lithuania and Abigail aka Bessie Budowlia from Belarus. They had at least seven children.

Aleck/Eli went to the A&M College of Texas. He took an interest in acting and participated in Amateur Theatricals, Little Theater and stock productions before. He had been living in the house on Goliad Street where he was born until 1929 when he took off to Broadway for 5 years.

There he made his debut in Morris Gest's The Freiburg Passion Play (Hippodrome Theatre, 29 april - 1 juni 1929). By then he performed under the name of Elliott Sullivan. Other plays followed such as: First Mortgage (Broadhurst Theatre, Oct. 29 - Nov 1. 1929) under the name of Ely Solomon; Red Rust (Martin Beck Theatre, Dec 17. 1929 - Feb 1. 1930), and both as clerk and dancer in Lysistrata (44th Street Theatre, Jun. 5. 1930 - Jan 10. 1931) ...

Late 1936, armed with a bus fare and a little left over for meals he decided to try his luck in Los Angeles. Together with Pete Dreyfus and Joe Thompson he rented the former home of Lew Cody (dubbed Whack(e)y Manor) on Grace Avenue at a monthly rate of $25.00 per person.

They won't forget this crime. Brothers of the slain girl state their intentions clearly: "Mister, you say you're not sure - well, you better find out quick - because if you don't - law or no law - well..." They Won't Forget (1937) (L to R) Claude Rains, Elliott Sullivan, Wilmer Hines.Ronald Reagan getting into a fight with Elliott Sullivan in Accidents will happen (1938)
Above left: They won't forget this crime. Brothers of the slain girl state their intentions clearly: "Mister, you say you're not sure - well, you better find out quick - because if you don't - law or no law - well..." They Won't Forget (Warner Bros., July 14. 1937) (L to R) Claude Rains, Elliott Sullivan, Wilmer Hines.
Above right: Ronald Reagan getting into a fight with Elliott Sullivan in Accidents will happen (Warner Bros., April 9. 1938).
King of the Underworld (1939) (L to R) Elliott Sullivan, Humprey Bogart, Unidentified [behind] and Kay Francis.His most memorable character is Cagney's cellmate in "The Roaring Twenties" (1939) who says he'd rather die than stay in prison. This gives Cagney's character (who mentions this cellmate later on) the motivation to make money... no matter how.
Above left: King of the Underworld (Warner Bros., Jan 7. 1939) (L to R) Elliott Sullivan, Humprey Bogart, Unidentified [behind] and Kay Francis.
Above right: His most memorable character is Cagney's cellmate in The Roaring Twenties (Warner Bros., October 25. 1939) who says he'd rather die than stay in prison. This gives Cagney's character (who mentions this cellmate later on) the motivation to make money... no matter how.

On September 1. 1939 he married Arlene Shields in L.A. However, this marriage did not last long and ended in divorce.

In addition to his theatrical works he had several small roles, many uncredited, in over 80 motion pictures. He was often type cast as a rough policeman or military serviceman (Elliott in fact enlisted in the army as private in 1943). On stage he was seen in Winged Victory (44th Street Theatre, May 20. 1943 - May 20. 1944) as Sergeant Casey, and in Skydrift (Belasco Theatre, Nov. 13. - Nov. 17. 1945) as Corporal Kenneth Brody among others.

He was very consistently cast in gangster and mug roles, and he reportedly stated that he "would saw off his good right leg for just one good comedy role, just one."

Millionaires in Prison (1940) Sullivan is on the right with Lee Tracy and Shemp Howard.Lane Bradford, Lynton Brent, Charles King, Pierce Lyden, Elliott Sullivan (left) and Dick Wessel in A Gentle Gangster (1943)
Above left: Millionaires in Prison (RKO Radio Pictures, 12 juli 1940) Sullivan is on the right with Lee Tracy and Shemp Howard.
Above right: Lane Bradford, Lynton Brent, Charles King, Pierce Lyden, Elliott Sullivan (left) and Dick Wessel (right) in A Gentle Gangster (Republic Pictures, May 10. 1943).

In April 1947, he married Norma Dolin in New York.

After his role on Broadway in Brigadoon Brigadoon (Ziegfeld Theatre, Mar. 13. 1947 - Jul. 31. 1948), he would not take up another role there for 10 years. Plenty of work in Hollywood films and television.

Since 1949 television also provided a regular income. When Norman and Irving Pincus first brought The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1950-1951) to the little screen on the old Dumont network, Elliott was cast as Sergeant Velie.

Sullivan was a regular guest on The Philco Television Playhouse between 1951 and 1952. He also did some stints in Off-Broadway productions. He was a replacement for the role of Rabbi David/ Prosecuting Angel/ The Principal in The World of Sholom Aleichem (Barbizon-Plaza Theatre, May 1. 1953 - May 23. 1954). (7)

His most prominent performance, lamentably, likely took place outside the entertainment business. In August 1955 he was called before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous House Un-American activities Committee on the basis of previous testimony by more cooperative witnesses (Jerome Robbins, Martin Berkeley, Lee J. Cobb, Nicholas Bela) who had testified that Sullivan had been present at various Communist party meetings.

Before HUAC he was accused of hiring Communist entertainers and of putting on a show ridiculing the FBI and the Bill of Rights at a Summer resort for children and adults. It was reported that audience members at the Wingdale Lodge, at Wingdale, N. Y. were "shocked" by the performance on July 4. Sullivan claimed that Bill of Rights show was merely a "satire" of conditions that exist today and had nothing to do with Communist philosophies.

Rep. Francis E. Walter (D-Pa) committee chairman, asked Sullivan whether he believed he got jobs "despite the fact that you are a Communist."

"I think you loaded the question," Sullivan replied. Asked point blank if he was a Communist, Sullivan said: "You have no right to ask me that question. I want this straight for the record I'm no conspirator and I have committed no crime" In refusing to answer, Sullivan invoked not the Fifth Amendment against self‐incrimination but the First Amendment guaranteeing freedoms of speech and association."I think you loaded the question," Sullivan replied. Asked point blank if he was a Communist, Sullivan said: "You have no right to ask me that question. I want this straight for the record I'm no conspirator and I have committed no crime" In refusing to answer, Sullivan invoked not the Fifth Amendment against self‐incrimination but the First Amendment guaranteeing freedoms of speech and association.

When the chairman suggested the possibility of a contempt citation did not seem to make much difference to Sullivan the actor flared: “Of course it makes a difference to me. Contempt—I have a wife and two children and I'm anxious to work. I resent that remark that it doesn't make difference to me—that nonsense. It makes a very serious difference in my entire life.

Elliott Sullivan, 48-year-old actor appearing as a witness today before the House Unamerican Activities Committee at Federal Court, waves arm during appearance. Sullivan, who did not invoke the Fifth Amendment, challenged the committee's right and power to question him about his political associations. He said the probe has been helping in the blacklisting of actors for political reasons. With him is his attorney, Bella Abzug. (AP Wirephoto August 16. 1955)
Above: Elliott Sullivan, 48-year-old actor appearing as a witness today before the House Unamerican Activities Committee at Federal Court, waves arm during appearance. Sullivan, who did not invoke the Fifth Amendment, challenged the committee's right and power to question him about his political associations. He said the probe has been helping in the blacklisting of actors for political reasons. With him is his attorney, Bella Abzug. (AP Wirephoto August 16. 1955)

At the time Sullivan was employed as Entertainment Director at Wingdale Lodge, an all-year round interracial resort which had presented some of America’s finest Black artists on its stage. In an open letter to The Jackson Advocate in late August 1955 Sullivan explained himself. "I am proud of my profession and the contribution it makes to the cultural life of America. Since I like to think of myself as a good American, I have always fought to enrich the culture of our country by fighting against the vicious discrimination which prevents Negro artists from enjoying equal job opportunities in radio, television, movies and the stage. ... I have been influential in engaging many Negro artists who are denied job opportunities in resorts else where. ... I have attempted to outline only some of the things I have done which in my own opinion, could easily have incurred the wrath of at least some southern members of the Committee. It is getting monotonous the way any honest person who takes a stand on any decent issue today is immediately branded and smeared and as a result deprived of his livelihood. I feel that I am one of those who is being lynched for his fight against jim-crow, and that it wouldn’t hurt to let people know some of the facts."

Sullivan was charged in 1957 with contempt of Congress after his appearance and was branded an unfriendly witness. He was acquitted by Federal Judge Sidney Sugarman in 1961 in a one‐day nonjury trial because of a technicality—the prosecution's failure to include in the indictment the resolution ordering the committee hearings.

Sullivan was listed on the "Red Channels list". Which listed 151 professionals in entertainment and on-air journalism whom it clearly implied were among "the Red Fascists and their sympathizers" in the broadcasting field. While his work for TV and film seemed to suffer theater kept providing him an income:
Small War on Murray Hill
(Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Jan. 3. - Jan. 12. 1957),
Brigadoon
(Adelphi Theatre, Apr. 9. - May 5. 1957),
Compulsion (Ambassador Theatre, Oct. 24. 1957 - Feb. 22. 1958),
The Power and the Glory
(Phoenix Theatre, Dec 10. - Feb 8. 1958),

In Gore Vidal's A Visit To A Small Planet by the Southern Tier Playhouse (Masonic Temple Binghamton, June 23. - June 28. 1958) Elliott portrayed General Tom Powers. 

The Great God Brown
(Coronet Theatre, Oct. 6. - Nov 1. 1959)

In 1959 he became a permanent member of the Phoenix Theatre Repertory Company:
  Lysistrata (Phoenix Theatre, Nov 24. - Dec 13. 1959),
  Peer Gynt (Phoenix Theatre, Jan 12. - Feb. 7. 1960),
  King Henry IV, Part I (Phoenix Theatre, Mar. 1. May 29. 1960),
  King Henry IV, Part II
(Phoenix Theatre, Apr. 18 - May 29. 1960),
  She Stoops to Conquer (Phoenix Theatre, Nov. 1. Nov 27. 1960),
  The Plough and the Stars (Phoenix Theatre, Dec. 1960 - Jan 1. 1961),
  The Octoroon (Phoenix Theatre, Jan. 27. - Mar. 5. 1961),
 
Hamlet (Phoenix Theatre, Mar. 16. - Jun. 11 1961).

In 1962, he moved to London, became a member of British Actors Equity and continued his career in British and European productions. When the BBC made a mini-series of Anne of Green Gables (Feb 20. - Mar. 19. 1972) he was notable in the role of Matthew Hamilton. He also had the minor role of a gas‐station operator in the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby (Paramount, March 27. 1974).

Sullivan appeared uncredited in a briefing in The Dirty Dozen (1967). (L to R) Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Webber, Elliott Sullivan.In the episode "Read and Destroy" Elliott Sullivan met with The Persuaders (1972), he is seen here with Tony Curtis
Above left: Sullivan appeared uncredited in a briefing in The Dirty Dozen (MGM, June 15. 1967). (L to R) Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Webber, Elliott Sullivan.
Above right: In the episode "Read and Destroy" Elliott Sullivan met The Persuaders (ITC Worldwide Distribution, Jan 28. 1972), he is seen here with Tony Curtis.
Barbara Hamilton, Elliott Sullivan and Kim Braden in Anne of Green Gables (1972) In Edward the Seventh (1975) Charles Sturidge as young Edward talking to a prisoner, played by Elliott Sullivan.
Above left: Barbara Hamilton, Elliott Sullivan and Kim Braden in Anne of Green Gables (BBC, Feb 20. - Mar. 19. 1972).
Above right: In Edward the Seventh (ATV, Apr 15. 1975) Charles Sturidge as young Edward talking to a prisoner, played by Elliott Sullivan.
On June 2. 1974 while on a visit from London, Elliott Sullivan 66, died from a heart attack in Los Angeles at the UCLA Medical Center. He was survived by his wife, Norma, a son, Marc of Los Angeles, a daughter, Abby and one granddaughter.

Almost 11 months later he was seen one last time on TV in the illustrious mini-series Edward the Seventh where he played his final role as a prisoner at the beginning of the third episode which aired on April 15. 1975 on ITV.

Thanks to Dale C. Andrews

 

 
Notes:

All dates for movies are for the official US release.
All dates for TV programs are original first airdates.
All dates for (radio) plays are for the time span the actor was involved.

Facts in red still need confirmation.

 
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Other references
(1) IMDb
(2) IBDB - IBDB - Ely Solomon
(3) Wikipedia
(4) Radiogoldindex
(5) The New York Times
(6) The L.A. Times
(7) IOBDB
(8) Playbill.com - Elliott Sullivan - Playbill.com -Elliot Sullivan
(9) Playbill.com - Ely Solomon

Additional video & audio sources
(1) Edward the Seventh (1975) Ep 3: "The New World" - 
     YouTube
(2) The Persuaders (1972) Season 1 Ep 20 "Read and Destroy"
(3) The Dirty Dozen (1967) Clip YouTube

 
This actor profile is a part of Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Velie in the 1950-1951 TV series of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. Click Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!
Many of the profiles on this site have been compiled after very careful research of various sources. Please quote and cite ethically!


Page first published on May 6. 2021 
Last updated May 5. 2024 

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